After my last post, we left Maine, blew through upstate New York, and spent a few days in Southern Ontario, mostly visiting relatives and briefly reacquainting myself with my hometown of Toronto.
It turns out I have a lot of really cool relatives! My family left Southern Ontario for the prairies when I was 11, and for California when I was 14, so I never really got to know most of my cousins and other relatives, who now number approximately 235. Or is it 350? Who can possibly keep count? There, it just grew again. (Congratulations on the new baby by the way.) As if that wasn’t enough relatives, two of my wife’s siblings (all from California) married Canadians from southern Ontario, moved there, and their families are growing there as well. (Congratulations on the new baby by the way.)
Having left Canada with our passports tucked away for awhile, I’ve had a chance to think of the things I will miss most about Canada, and things that I will not miss.
THINGS I WILL MISS ABOUT CANADA:
- 18% butterfat cream wherever you buy a cup of coffee.
- Friendly people everywhere.
- Peanut butter as well as jam for your toast in the little container at the table of every restaurant.
- Feeling fairly confident that the person tailgating or otherwise driving aggressively toward you does not have a handgun or assault weapon.
- Overhearing lovely conversations in French at the table next to you even though you have no clue what they are saying.
- Tim Horton’s. (Aside: Tim Horton – number 7 – was my favorite member of the Toronto Maple Leafs when I was kid. He had the good fortune to start the most successful donut and coffee shop chain in Canada, but had the bad fortune to be screwed out of it long before it really took off.)
- The metric system – it just makes sense – and the constant mental exercise involved in converting metric to US.
- The 20% discount on everything due to US-Cananda currency exchange.
- Butter tarts everywhere! This alone would make moving to Canada a reasonable option.
- Inukshuks – the hundreds and hundreds of Inuit-inspired rock sculptures along many roads that are in the likeness of humans and traditionally mean “you are on the right path.” This elaborate one was shot by John Mackey because all of the ones we saw had been knocked down by vandals, and now have the traditional meaning of “pile of rocks” or “some people are real jerks.”
- Primary roads that have almost no traffic. All across the Trans-Canada Highway I was amazed how comparatively little traffic there was. Especially trucks. By contrast, for example, I-5 is horrible all the way from San Diego to Seattle, and I-80 can be messy most of the way across the US. Okay, this comment does NOT apply to roads anywhere near Toronto or Montreal or Vancouver).
- Canadian accents eh?
- A country that appreciates its diversity and the contributions of its immigrants to such a degree that it has a National Museum of Immigration. (If you look carefully you will find the name of my grandmother, who came to Canada as a young single mother with SEVEN young children in July of 1926.)
- No pennies – you round to the nearest nickel.
- A system where policy still matters, campaigns last 11 weeks, special interests can’t buy elections, and elected representatives have to actually answer to each other, in public session, every day. (Now coming oh so close to violating the No-Politics Zone – let’s move on.)
- The Canadian flag. Canada’s flag, by the way, is considered one of the world’s best by world-renowned Vexillologist Ted Kaye, who literally wrote the book on what makes a good flag: “Good Flag, Bad Flag.”
- Fall Colour worthy of its name.
- Loonies (one dollar coins) and Toonies (two dollar coins) – just because it is so much fun to say Loonies and Toonies.
- Singing along with the Canadian anthem until I choke up. (BE SURE TO CLICK ON THE LINK AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST.)
THINGS I WON’T MISS:
- No free refills of coffee. I was amazed how after spending $5 or $6 on an espresso beverage, my smiling request never yielded a free refill of coffee, a request routinely granted below the border. To prove the point, I am currently finishing this post at The Bean in Las Cruces, NM. After finishing my morning espresso, I have just gone to the counter and asked the lovely Lauren how much it would cost to trade my empty mug for a full one of coffee. She smiled sweetly, and said, “oh, nothing.” Thanks Lauren:
- The prices of just about everything, which are higher than in the US even after the currency conversion.
- Hardly any rest areas on highways. How is one supposed to have their morning and afternoon naps? (Ah, the retired life.)
- The metric system – how can you figure out what you are really paying for fuel?
- Apparently a lot, so let’s add fuel prices to the list.
- The challenge of trying to find a coffee shop that is not a Tim Horton’s. (The challenge now that I am back in the States is to find a coffee shop that is not a Starbucks.)
- Lounge music masquerading as jazz.
BUT WHAT I WILL MISS MOST ABOUT CANADA IS CANADIANS: